News sources are reporting that a passenger died aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this morning after falling down a staircase.
Massachusetts resident, Barbara Wood, age 47, reportedly was leaving the Catacombs nightclub aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas at about 1:48 a.m. when she fell on the stairs and struck her head, according to a statement by the Broward County Sheriff’s office.
Ms. Wood was taken to the ship’s infirmary where she was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m., according to the Sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s deputies met the cruise ship when it docked at 5 a.m. at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
The Royal Caribbean PR spokesperson stated that the company would not speculate on what caused the accident.
It should be noted that there should be closed circuit television (CCTV) maintained by the cruise line which should have captured the accident and should reveal exactly what happened. It is less than clear where the accident occurred although the stairs around this club are extremely decorative.
Any time an accident occurs late at night and near a nightclub, there is speculation that alcohol may have been involved. This is nothing new. Alcohol sales are a fundamental part of the cruise experience, and alcohol is often pushed by the cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean has undoubtedly already carefully reviewed this passenger’s onboard purchases and determined exactly how many alcoholic beverages, if any, she purchased last night. The cruise line will also have reviewed the CCTV images and interviewed those at the scene of the accident.
To the extent that alcohol played any part in the accident, the maritime law regarding the liability of cruise lines is well settled. In Hall v. Royal Caribbean, a passenger "was injured on the high seas when, after having been served alcohol by the vessel’s employees to and obviously past the point of intoxication, he staggered from a lounge, and while unable to look after himself fell down two flights of open stairways."
The appellate court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case, finding that the dismissal "must be reversed because the complaint clearly stated a cause of action for breach of the defendant’s duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers."
If you were on the cruise and have additional information to add, please leave a comment below.
February 4, 2012 Update:
This is not the first serious accident on the Liberty of the Seas involving the Catacombs stairwells: When Will Royal Caribbean Replace the Dangerous Stairs in the Catacombs Lounge on the Liberty of the Seas?
Photo credit: Bottom photo – skinnie minnie / Flickr page